Brian Matusz Rumors


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.

Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements...

  • After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
  • The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter). 
  • Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
  • Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
  • MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
  • Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
  • The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
  • The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
  • Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
  • MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
  • The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
  • The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter).  He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
  • Cesar Ramos got $750K from the Rays in his deal, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets
  • Sherman tweets that the Athletics' Craig Gentry will get $1.145MM on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
  • Jerry Blevins and the Nationals avoided arbitration, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. He will earn $1.675MM for the year, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.
  • Alejandro De Aza agreed to a $4.25MM deal with the White Sox, Sherman tweets.  Within the same tweet, Sherman says the Rays shook hands with Jose Lobaton on a $900K deal and James Russell agreed to a $1.775MM pact.
  • The White Sox and Gordon Beckham agreed to a one-year, $4.175MM deal, Sherman tweets.
  • The Brewers avoided arbitration with Marco Estrada and Juan Francisco, Sherman tweets.  Estrada gets $3.325MM with $100K in innings pitched bonuses while Francisco gets $1.35MM.
  • Mike Dunn agreed to a $1.4MM deal with the Marlins, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel (on Twitter). 
  • Pedro Alvarez will earn $4.25MM on his brand new deal with the Pirates, Sherman tweets.
  • The Nationals announced that they've struck an arb-avoiding deal with Wilson Ramos.  Ramos gets $2.095MM with the opportunity to get $105K more through plate appearance bonuses, per Sherman.
  • Alexi Ogando gets $2.625MM in 2014 from the Rangers, according to Sherman.
  • Mark Melancon will get $2.595MM after striking a deal with the Pirates, tweets Sherman.
  • Brandon Moss and the Athletics avoided arbitration with a $4.1MM pact, Sherman tweets.
  • The Red Sox and Jonathan Herrera avoided arbitration with a $1.3MM deal for 2014, Sherman tweets.
  • Brian Duensing has agreed to a $2MM deal with the Twins, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (via Twitter). Berardino adds in a second tweet that Anthony Swarzak also avoided arb with a $935K deal. The swingman will earn a $25K bonus if he starts 10 games.
  • The Rangers and Neftali Feliz agreed to a $3MM deal with bonuses of $25K for 50/55 games finished, Sherman tweets.
  • Jake McGee will earn $1.45MM in his new deal with the Rays, Sherman tweets.
  • The Royals and Eric Hosmer have agreed to a one-year, $3.6MM deal, Sherman tweets.
  • Mike Carp gets $1.4MM in his deal with the Red Sox, according to Sherman (via Twitter).
  • Bobby Parnell agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM with the Mets that can increase by $50K if he appears in 60 games, Sherman tweets.
  • The Braves avoided arbitration with Jordan Schafer with a $1.09MM deal, tweets Sherman.  Sherman adds that Andy Dirks and the Tigers have also avoided arbitration with a $1.625MM deal.  
  • Shawn Kelley and the Yankees dodged arbitration by agreeing to a $1.765MM deal for 2014, Sherman tweets.  Kelley, 29, has a career 3.77 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
  • The Red Sox agreed to a one-year, $1.275MM deal with Junichi Tazawa, according to Sherman (on Twitter).  Tazawa posted a 3.16 ERA in 2013 with 9.5 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.
  • The Rockies avoided arbitration with Drew Stubbs by agreeing to a $4.1MM deal for 2014, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter).  With the signing of Stubbs, the Rockies have now taken care of all of their arbitration-eligible players.
  • Kyle Blanks has avoided arbitration with the Padres by agreeing to a one-year, $988K deal, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter). 
  • Sherman also reports (on Twitter) that the Giants have avoided arbitration with Gregor Blanco and Tony Abreu by agreeing to one-year deals that are worth $2.525MM and $745K, respectively.
  • The Cardinals and Peter Bourjos have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.2MM contract, tweets Sherman. Bourjos can earn another $150K based on plate appearances.
  • Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have avoided arbitration with a one-year deal, according to Sanchez's agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Sanchez will earn $2.3MM.
  • Sherman reports (via Twitter) that the Blue Jays also avoided arbitration with Esmil Rogers by agreeing to a one-year, $1.85MM contract.
  • The Nationals announced that in addition to their two-year deal with Jordan Zimmermann, they've also signed Drew Storen to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. Sherman tweets that he'll earn $3.45MM in 2014 with an additional $1MM of incentives in his contract for games finished.
  • The Rockies and righty Juan Nicasio avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.025MM contract, Sherman tweets.
  • The Blue Jays and lefty Brett Cecil have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $1.3MM pact, per Sherman (on Twitter).
  • Sherman tweets that the Rays and Matt Joyce agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM contract, thereby avoiding arbitration.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Reds have avoided arbitration with Alfredo Simon by agreeing to a one-year, $1.5MM contract (Twitter link).
  • Connolly also reports that the Orioles have avoided arbitration with Tommy Hunter (Twitter link). Currently the front-runner to serve as Baltimore's closer in 2014, Hunter will earn $3MM after posting a 2.81 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 86 1/3 innings for the O's in 2013.
  • Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles and Troy Patton have avoided arbitration (Twitter link). Patton topped Swartz's $1.2MM salary projection by earning a raise to $1.275MM, Connolly adds in a second tweet.. Patton will be suspended for the first 25 games of 2014 for amphetamine use.
  • The Twins and Trevor Plouffe have agreed to a one-year, $2.35MM contract, Sherman tweets. Plouffe saw his power numbers drop as he batted .254/.309/.392 with 14 homers in a career-high 522 plate appearances in 2013 (he'd belted 24 homers in 465 PAs in 2012). He figures to open the season as Minnesota's everyday third baseman but could eventually have competition from top prospect Miguel Sano.
  • Jon Jay and the Cardinals have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.25MM contract, according to Sherman (on Twitter). Jay batted .276/.351/.370 with the Cards in 2013 but struggled defensively (particularly in the playoffs) and will have center field competition in the form of offseason acquisition Peter Bourjos in 2014.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Phillies and John Mayberry Jr. have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.5875MM. Mayberry slashed .227/.286/.391 in 2013 and has a career .274/.321/.526 batting line against lefties. He came in just under Swartz's $1.7MM projection.
  • The Cubs and Luis Valbuena have also avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year pact, tweets Sherman. Valbuena will earn $1.71MM after slashing .218/.331/.378 and setting a new career-best with 12 homers in 2013. He exceeded Swartz's projection by $210K.

Zach Links contributed to this post.



AL Notes: Napoli, Tigers, Orioles, Ryan

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred testified, during the Alex Rodriguez arbitration hearing, baseball did not concern itself if Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch distributed illegal substances to minors and was only interested in possible criminal activity involving players. Today, Manfred called the report "ridiculous" telling Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel his testimony was "totally out of context and mischaracterized" and accused the A-Rod camp of leaking the story. "The larger point is this: From our perspective, one of the reasons we pursue cases like the A-Rod case is we think players should be role models for kids," Manfred explained to Haudricourt. "It's almost comical that A-Rod, who already has admitted in the past he used steroids, would express an opinion on our stance on children and PEDs." The hearing will resume next month. In other news and notes from the American League:

  • Mike Napoli's strong postseason is further proof his avascular necrosis is not an issue as he enters free agency for the second time, reports MLB.com's Lindsay Berra. Napoli was frustrated by having to settle for a one-year, $5MM deal (incentives pushed the eventual value to $13MM) after a three-year, $39MM contract was scrapped because of the AVN diagnosis. "I waited seven years for free agency and then got an opportunity, and it got taken away because of something I didn't even know I had and had never had any pain from," said Napoli. "I'm a little more confident about negotiating a contract now that I've shown all year that my hips aren't an issue, but I'm sure I'm going to have to go through all the steps again, with all the MRIs and talking to doctors."
  • There are six questions the Tigers must answer this offseason, writes MLive.com's Chris Iott. Among the answers, Iott predicts Jim Leyland will return as manager, the Tigers will not re-sign Jhonny Peralta (despite his desire to remain in Detroit), but will re-sign Joaquin Benoit and Omar Infante
  • The Orioles don't have a lot of inventory to deal this winter after trading away six players in midseason acquisitions, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, and Steve Johnson head the list of tradeable players, according to Dubroff.
  • Nolan Ryan left his imprint on the Rangers, especially the pitching staff, with his attitude and focus on conditioning, opines Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
  • Ryan received a $10MM buyout (his ownership stake plus incentives) when he announced his retirement from the Rangers, Grant reports in separate article. However, according to Forbes, Ryan wound up losing money on his ownership investment. Ryan's original equity interest was valued at $13MM (6% ownership); but, dwindled to $7MM (1% ownership) because he declined to participate in various cash calls to cover his share of the losses the franchise incurred.



Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

Dozens of players will agree to terms with their respective teams today and avoid arbitration. We'll have detailed posts on the top earners around MLB, and we'll track more modest agreements -- those worth less than $4MM -- right here. MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker will have all of the details.

Teams had until 12pm CDT today to exchange filing numbers with their arbitration eligible players. Generally speaking the deadline creates lots of discussion and leads to early deals. Plus, for ‘file and trial’ teams this marks the final chance for negotiations in advance of a hearing. Here are the latest agreements from around MLB...

  • The Padres announced that they have avoided arbitration with Edinson Volquez.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
  • The Red Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Andrew Bailey ($4.1MM), Daniel Bard ($1.8625MM), Andrew Miller ($1.475MM), and Franklin Morales ($1.4875MM).  Terms courtesy of WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
  • The Mets and Bobby Parnell avoided arb with a $1.7MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
  • The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Alfredo Aceves, agreeing to a deal worth $2.65MM plus incentives, according to O'Connell Sports Management, Aceves' agency (on Twitter via Jon Heyman).
  • The Cubs avoided arbitration with James Russell and Jeff Samardzija, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter). Samardzija obtains $2.64MM while Russell gets $1.075MM, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter).
  • The Diamondbacks announced that they avoided arbitration with Chris Johnson ($2.2875MM). The team also avoided arbitration with Brad Ziegler ($3.15MM), agreeing to a one-year deal, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports (on Twitter).  Terms courtesy of Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).
  • The Nationals announced that they agreed to terms with Tyler Clippard, avoiding arbitration (via Amanda Comak on Twitter). The Nationals avoided arbitration with Ian Desmond, agreeing to a one-year, $3.8MM deal, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports (on Twitter). The Nationals also avoided arb with Roger Bernadina according to the outfielder's agent, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). The Nationals and Ross Detwiler agreed to a one-year, $2.3375MM contract, according to CAA (via Twitter).
  • Brennan Boesch and Phil Coke avoided arbitration, agreeing to one-year deals with the Tigers, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Boesch will earn $2.3MM while Coke will earn $1.85MM. The Tigers also avoided arbitration with Alex Avila, agreeing to a one-year, $2.95MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (all Twitter links). Austin Jackson agreed to a deal worth $3.5MM for 2013, Heyman reports. Doug Fister obtained a one-year, $4MM deal from Detroit, Heyman reports.
  • The Dodgers and A.J. Ellis avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $2MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ronald Belisario agreed to a one-year, $1.45MM deal, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports (on Twitter).
  • The Mariners announced that they avoided arbitration with Kendrys Morales and Brendan Ryan on one-year agreements for 2013. Morales will obtain $5.25MM plus performance bonuses, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ryan obtained $3.25MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
  • The Rockies avoided arb with Tyler Colvin, agreeing to a one-year deal, the team announced (on Twitter). Colvin will earn $2.275MM, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes (on Twitter).
  • The Braves avoided arbitration with Cristhian Martinez, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports (on Twitter). The Braves avoided arb with Kris Medlen, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports (on Twitter). Medlen will earn $2.6MM in 2013. They also avoided arb with Jason Heyward, agreeing to a one-year, $3.65MM deal, Bowman reports (onTwitter). The Braves agreed with another young player, avoiding arb with Jonny Venters, O'Brien reports (on Twitter). It's a $1.625MM deal. Earlier today the Braves agreed to a one-year deal with Eric O'Flaherty, avoiding arbitration, Bowman reported (on Twitter). He'll earn $4.32MM plus awards bonuses, Bowman adds.
  • The Athletics announced they avoided arb with Jerry Blevins and Brandon Moss, agreeing to one-year deals for 2013.
  • The Cardinals avoided arb with Mitchell Boggs and Edward Mujica, B.J. Rains of FOX Sports MidWest reports (on Twitter).
  • The Indians announced that they avoided arb with Matt Albers and Justin Masterson. Albers will earn $1.75MM in 2013, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (on Twitter). Masterson will earn $5.6875MM according to Bastian (on Twitter). The Indians and Joe Smith avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.15MM deal, Bastian reported earlier today (on Twitter). The Indians also avoided arbitration with Lou Marson, Bastian reports (Twitter links). The catcher will earn $1MM on a one-year deal in 2013.
  • The Astros avoided arb with Wesley Wright, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports (on Twitter).  Wright will earn $1.025MM, according to Heyman (on Twitter). Earlier today the Astros and Bud Norris avoided arb with a one-year, $3MM deal, McTaggart reports (on Twitter). The Astros and Jed Lowrie avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.4MM deal with awards bonuses, according to his representatives at CAA Baseball (on Twitter).
  • The White Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Alejandro De Aza, agreeing to a $2.075MM deal for 2013. The White Sox also avoided arb with Gordon Beckham, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2.925MM for 2013, MLBTR has learned.
  • The Orioles announced that they avoided arb with Chris Davis and Brian Matusz (Twitter link). Matusz gets a base salary of $1.6MM while Davis gets $3.3MM, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (Twitter links). The Orioles also avoided arbitration with Troy Patton. The sides agreed to a one-year, $815K deal, his agency, CAA Sports, announced on Twitter
  • The Brewers avoided arb with right-hander Marco Estrada and reliever Burke Badenhop, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Twitter links). Estrada will earn $1.955MM while Badenhop will earn $1.55MM, Haudricourt reports.
  • The Rays avoided arbitration with Matthew Joyce and Ryan Roberts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (on Twitter). Joyce will earn $2.45MM and Roberts will earn $2.95MM plus incentives, the Rays announced. The Rays also avoided arbitration with Sam Fuld, agreeing to a one-year, $725K deal, Topkin reported (on Twitter). Earlier today the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeff Niemann. The sides agreed to a one-year, $3MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
  • The Royals announced that they avoided arbitration with Luke Hochevar, agreeing to a one-year deal for 2013. Hochevar will earn $4.56MM plus performance bonuses, Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star reports (on Twitter).
  • The Yankees avoided arb with Boone Logan, agreeing to a one-year, $3.15MM deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
  • The Padres avoided arb with John Baker, agreeing to a $930K deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
  • The Twins and Brian Duensing avoided arb with a $1.3MM deal for 2013 (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
  • The Marlins avoided arbitration with Ryan Webb, agreeing to a $975K deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (on Twitter).
  • The Blue Jays announced that they avoided arbitration with Emilio Bonifacio by agreeing to a one-year, $2.6MM deal. The Blue Jays also announced that they avoided arbitration with J.A. Happ, agreeing to a one-year, $3.7MM deal for 2013.
  • The Angels and Tommy Hanson avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.725MM deal, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. 
  • The Giants avoided arb with Gregor Blanco, agreeing to a one-year, $1.35MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
  • The Phillies announced that they avoided arbitration with Antonio Bastardo with a $1.4MM contract for 2013.
  • Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have reached agreement on a one-year, $1.75MM deal plus bonuses to avoid arbitration, according to the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter).


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Orioles, Brian Matusz Nearing Deal

The Orioles are nearing a deal with arbitration eligible left-hander Brian Matusz, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (on Twitter). The Orioles have yet to complete a deal with the Excel Sports Management client.

Matusz, 25, is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason following a year in which he posted a 4.87 ERA in 98 innings as a starter and reliever. The super two player had a projected $1MM salary, Matt Swartz anticipated for MLBTR.

Matusz is one of Baltimore's seven remaining arb eligible players, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. Chris Davis, Jason Hammel, Jim Johnson, Darren O'Day, Troy Patton and Matt Wieters are the others.



AL East Notes: Drew, Orioles, Blue Jays, Rays

On this date 21 years ago, the Blue Jays signed free agent starter Jack Morris to a two-year contract. The right-hander had recently led the Twins to a memorable World Series win over the Braves, out-pitching John Smoltz with ten shutout innings in the deciding seventh game. Morris won 21 games for the 1992 Blue Jays, and Toronto captured its first World Series title. Though Morris struggled in 1993, the Blue Jays successfully defended their title. Now 57, Morris is a candidate for Hall of Fame induction. Here are today's AL East links...

  • Stephen Drew will obtain $500K if he reaches 500 plate appearances in 2013, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Drew agreed to terms with the Red Sox on a one-year, $9.5MM deal yesterday.
  • The Orioles have spoken with at least six teams about possible trades, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports. The Orioles are seeking a middle of the order bat, but aren't willing to trade their best prospects to obtain one. While there's some interest in pitchers such as Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Zach Britton, there are indications the Orioles wouldn't want to trade more than one of them. Plus, their trade value isn't particularly high.
  • The Blue Jays are prioritizing present gains over future potential, Shi Davidi writes at Sportsnet.ca. But it's not about a one-year gamble for GM Alex Anthopoulos. "This allows us to really put what we feel is a contending team together for an extended run, for a three-to-five year period," Anthopoulos said. An interesting note from Davidi's piece: Zack Greinke will out-earn Dickey's $30MM contract about a month into the 2014 season. The two contracts were signed under different circumstances, of course, but it’s still noteworthy.
  • Curtis Granderson expects to hit free agency after the 2013 season, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. The Yankees have a team policy of waiting until players hit free agency before negotiating extensions, and Granderson doesn’t expect GM Brian Cashman to make an exception for him. “I’m just excited to play this year, and then, once we get to the end, we’ll take it at that point,” he said.
  • In a separate piece, Davidoff suggests that the best-run teams -- he cites the Rays as one example -- look to contend every year instead of targeting specific windows.



CAA Represents Howard; Excel Adds Guthrie, Matusz

CAA Sports is the lone agency representing Ryan Howard, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal reports (Twitter links). The Phillies first baseman had previously been co-represented by CAA Sports and Excel Sports Management.

“I believe that CAA Sports is best positioned to help me achieve my goals both on and off the field,” Howard said in an official statement.

Meanwhile, Excel Sports Management has added two pitchers who were former clients of CAA. MLB agents Casey Close and David O'Hagan added free agent right-hander Jeremy Guthrie and Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz to their list of clients at Excel, Mullen reports.

Be sure to check MLBTR’s Agency Database for up to date information about players and their agents.



Orioles “Going Hard” After Greinke

The Orioles are “going hard” after Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke, an MLB executive told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles appear to be the most aggressive suitor for Greinke, but talks are preliminary, Connolly reports. Some believe the Orioles and Braves are most likely to land Greinke, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports.

Brewers president of baseball operations Doug Melvin recently told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that his team is "trying to win games and get back in the hunt." The Brewers may wait until after facing the Reds, Pirates and Cardinals to determine their course of action this summer.

Executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette "absolutely" has financial support from ownership to take on salary this season, Connolly reports. Greinke, who’s on track for free agency this offseason, earns $13.5MM in 2012. The Brewers could obtain two compensatory draft picks for losing Greinke to free agency, but no other team has the same opportunity under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement. 

Duquette recently told Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com that he'd like to improve his team's rotation if possible. Top prospects Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy are probably off-limits in trade talks. “They look to be long-term solutions to help the Orioles," Duquette said. The Orioles don’t want to trade young pitching, Connolly reports.

 Greinke, 28, has a 3.08 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 108 innings so far this year. Agent Casey Close has had some extensions talks with the Brewers on Greinke's behalf.

Brian Matusz is a possible trade chip for the Orioles, Crasnick writes (on Twitter). The Orioles are "down on" Matusz, who's now in the minor leagues.



Rosenthal On Phillies, Dempster, Soriano, Chavez

Phillies general partner David Montgomery told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he’s not thinking about trading away established players since opportunity still exists for his 29-33 club. “Come August or something, maybe we feel differently,” Montgomery acknowledged, noting that the team’s current goal is to re-enter the playoff picture.

Here are more rumors and notes from Rosenthal...

  • Though the Cubs want to add talent, they are reluctant to start a long rebuilding process. Of all the Cubs, Ryan Dempster is most likely to be traded, according to Rosenthal. One general manager said the right-hander seems like a “classic Ned Colletti buy,” so don’t be surprised if the Dodgers show some interest in Dempster. 
  • Rosenthal speculates that the Indians could be a fit for Alfonso Soriano. Though the Cubs would be paying most of the outfielder’s salary in any trade, Soriano can still hit, especially against left-handers. Rival teams expect the Indians to be aggressive this summer, and they could use a right-handed bat like Soriano.
  • Teams aren’t sure that Wandy Rodriguez would succeed in the American League.
  • One person said there’s “no chance” the Red Sox could obtain prospects for Kevin Youkilis without paying most of his salary.
  • The Reds want to add a left-handed hitter, Rosenthal reports.
  • Though Eric Chavez can still play, preparing for games has become “a huge hurdle to climb physically.” The Yankees and White Sox were the only teams to show interest in the 34-year-old this past offseason, and he would have been content to retire if necessary.
  • Don’t be surprised if the Giants look to acquire a reliever, Rosenthal writes.
  • One executive wonders if the Orioles could trade Brian Matusz in a deal for a more established starter.



Platform Years For First-Time Eligible Starters

Clayton Kershaw's salary jumped from $500K to $7.5MM this year, and it wasn't just because of his Cy Young performance. Kershaw qualified for arbitration for the first time in his career over the winter, so he obtained the right to establish his salary by comparing his production to that of his peers.

James McDonald (Pirates) - PW

Though $7MM raises are reserved for elite performers like Kershaw, many first-time eligible starting pitchers will see their salaries rise from $500K or so to $2-4.5MM this coming offseason. A player’s case depends in large part on his career numbers, but his most recent season, or platform year, matters a great deal. 

Advanced statistics like xFIP, wins above replacement and swinging strike rate don't generally figure in to arbitration cases. Instead, traditional stats such as innings, starts, wins and ERA determine players' salaries.

With one third of the season now complete, let’s check in on the prominent starting pitchers on track to be first-time arbitration eligible this coming offseason:

Arb 1 Pitchers for 2012-13

Injuries have limited Jhoulys Chacin, Doug Fister, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson and Neftali Feliz. All of these pitchers are on the disabled list, none of them are on pace to complete 150 innings, and three of them -- Estrada, Fister and Chacin -- remain winless.

Phil Humber and Tommy Hunter have stayed healthy, but they’re off to disappointing starts that include losing records and ERAs above 5.50. The homer-prone Hunter is pitching at Triple-A, and could soon be recalled. The collective bargaining recognizes special accomplishments, and Humber's perfect game definitely qualifies, so his representatives at Moye Sports Associates could play it up should the sides go to a hearing. Yet there's no clear conversion rate in place to help value Humber's perfecto.

Brian Matusz and Ross Detwiler both spent considerable time in the minor leagues last year, but they've responded with solid seasons to date. Both will head to arbitration with losing records, however, and Matusz's career ERA sits at 5.32.

Bud Norris, Ian Kennedy, Tommy Hanson, Mat Latos and, to a lesser extent, Mike Leake all entered the season with the bulk innings totals that often lead to generous salaries in arbitration. All five pitchers continue piling up innings, though Leake, Latos and Norris have ERAs above 4.50. The pitchers in this group figure to be compared against one another over and over this coming winter.

Former top prospects Jeff Samardzija and James McDonald (pictured) are enjoying breakout seasons. Both right-handers have career-best walk rates and are averaging one strikeout per inning. If they can keep this up -- or at least come reasonably close to doing so -- their paychecks will reflect the improvements in 2013 and beyond. Unfortunately for Samardzija, starters Rick Porcello and David Price didn't seem to be able to use their generous pre-arbitration salaries to boost their arbitration earnings this past offseason, so his current $2.64MM salary probably won't help much.

It's early enough for the fortunes of these pitchers to change dramatically. Feliz could return to the bullpen, Fister could replicate last year's second half success, or Samardzija could regress. But, ten-plus starts into the season, these pitchers' platform seasons have started taking shape.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire. Stats via Baseball-Reference.com. Note that Derek Holland and Jonathon Niese signed extensions covering what would have been their first arb years. Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg and Daniel Hudson are expected to fall just shy of super two eligibility, though that's not official.



Extension Candidates: Sophomore Starters

Wade Davis signed a multiyear extension with the Rays last week, though he's just one season into his MLB career. The deal is not without risk for Davis, since he could pitch like Ubaldo Jimenez and become a bargain for Tampa Bay, or for the Rays since Davis could get hurt, depriving them of a pitcher they need.

Here's a list of pitchers who could sign deals like the four-year, $12.6MM contract Tampa Bay completed with Davis. Like the Rays righty, these pitchers are on track to hit arbitration after 2012 and free agency after 2015 unless otherwise noted (age in parentheses):

  • Mat Latos, Padres (23) - Latos was flat-out phenomenal last year and would be positioned to ask for more than Davis obtained with his record deal. The skill is there, so if the Padres believe in his health (he's now on the DL) and maturity, Latos would be an extension candidate.
  • Wade LeBlanc, Padres (26) - LeBlanc, now in the minor leagues, is older than Latos and without the same front-of-the-rotation potential. His numbers, though comparable to the ones Davis has, don't scream 'lock me up,' so a deal seems unlikely.
  • Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies (23) - The Rockies were aggressive with extensions this offseason, locking up Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and others. Chacin, who struck out a batter per inning in 2010, wouldn't cost nearly as much as his more experienced teammates.
  • Mike Leake, Reds (23) - If one organization was as extension happy as the Rockies this offseason it was the Reds. Leake struggled down the stretch last year and just barely made Cincinnati's rotation. They'll likely let the 2009 first rounder prove himself before committing eight figures to him.
  • Jon Niese, Mets (24) - Niese has comparable numbers to Davis, with slightly more strikeouts per inning (7.4 K/9) and a higher ERA (4.33).
  • Brian Matusz, Orioles (24) - Matusz compares to Davis statistically, but he could establish himself as a front-of-the-rotation starter with a breakout 2011 season, so he may be reluctant to lock himself in to pre-set salaries.
  • Mitch Talbot, Indians (27) - Talbot has poor walk (4.3 BB/9) and strikeout (5.0 K/9) numbers so far in his career, so he doesn't seem like a likely extension candidate. The Indians did extend Fausto Carmona, who doesn't get many strikeouts, but they may prefer to let Talbot prove himself further before committing to him.
  • Brett Cecil, Blue Jays (24) and Madison Bumgarner, Giants (21) both impressed in 2010. They're possible super two players, which means they may go to arbitration four times, once more than the starters above. If either Cecil or Bumgarner signed an extension, it wouldn't be completely parallel to the Davis deal.

It's possible that none of these pitchers will sign extensions, since long-term contracts for starters with fewer than two years of service time are uncommon. Some players don't mind going year to year in anticipation of big arbitration paydays and many teams prefer not to commit eight-figure deals to relatively unproven pitchers.

But some small market clubs, like the Athletics, Indians and Rays, have successfully completed a number of multiyear contracts for emerging pitchers. Teams looking to spend now and save later could take note and approach their best sophomore arms about long-term deals.









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